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The Biggest Reason Washington Doesn't Work

The Biggest Reason Washington Doesn’t Work


The biggest reason Washington doesn’t work has been on obvious display over the past month. A little over a year ago President Obama drew a red line on Syria. He said if the Assad government used chemical weapons that the U.S. would act.

On August 21st the Assad government conducted a massive chemical attack on its own citizens. Over the next two weeks, President Obama and his Secretaries of State and Defense began planning a military response. Just before the response was to occur, the President switched direction and decided to ask for the Congress to vote on the military response. The President made it clear that he didn’t need the Congress to authorize a response, but he decided to ask for support from Capitol Hill. The two top Republican leaders in the House, Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, gave their unequivocal support to President Obama.

Beyond that initial meeting in the White House, problems began to develop in the effort to grow support for a congressional resolution to authorize action against Syria. There were a myriad of reasons: a war-weary public and a Congress that didn’t support it; the plan was too strong a response; the plan was too weak; the plan didn’t have defined goals or a disengagement policy; there was unknown possibility of collateral damage. Moreover, how would Syria and its allies in the Middle East respond? Soon the “action plan” became a muddle of promises marked by two primary goals – its goal would not be to remove Assad (who had been recently compared to Hitler by Secretary Kerry), and it would be as tiny as possible.

Then lightning struck. Secretary Kerry made an off-hand comment that military action could be avoided if the Assad regime would give up all its chemical weapons and allow inspectors to confirm that the weapons had been removed. The people at State immediately went into damage control to walk back this unfortunate comment. But the Russians saw an opening and jumped on it. Since there was little chance the President could win a vote in the House and maybe not in the Senate either, the Obama Administration jumped on the Russian opening and tried to make it their own.

The President ordered the Secretary of State to begin negotiations with the Russians and the Syrians to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrians crossing his red line and using chemical weapons on the Syrian people.

At the very same time this international challenge was taking place, there was a domestic policy challenge as well.  The October 1 implementation of Obamacare looms like, in the words of Sen. Baucus, a real “train wreck.”  Republicans, and a few Democrats, have been asking for everything from a delay in the personal mandate to defunding of Obamacare in the continuing resolution to fund the government. The President exhibits high dudgeon that anyone would dare use the normal functions and legal actions of the government to disagree with him and try to change his Obamacare policies.

Let’s put this in context. The Obama Administration has missed more than half of the legislative deadlines for actions to implement the ACA. The President has worked with his big business friends to delay their mandate a year. He has given waivers to untold numbers of union members. He even worked out a blatantly unconstitutional action by the OPM to grant relief only to Senators, Congressmen and their senior staff.

But you have to draw the line somewhere, and the President has set the red line at the personal mandate. Or any other change that the Republicans want.

So let’s look at the record today. The President is negotiating with the Russians and the Assad regime-- the modern equivalent of Hitler according to Secretary Kerry-- but he will not even consider negotiating with those Americans who want the same type of relief from Obamacare that he has given to his corporate cronies, unions and Congress.

So for Obama, discussing reasonable proposals to head off a “train wreck” for the average American is actually “obstructionism,” while waffling over how to placate a terrorist regime – one that murdered its own civilians – is considered desirable.  This is Presidential leadership? For Obama, any citizen who disagrees with his domestic policies is treated as an enemy, yet truly dangerous foreign entities are to be negotiated with and appeased.

You want to know why Washington doesn’t work? Because President Obama treats legitimate concerns-- by more than half of the American people-- as “obstructionism,” and trips over himself to negotiate with governments that obstruct the most fundamental human right.


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